The Jets season will hinge on it.
If New York is going to have a chance, they are going to need to show improvement in this area.
Ranking No. 25 just will not cut it.
What are we talking about?
The Jets’ pass rush.
Last season, the Jets averaged 1.9 sacks per game.
That contributed to the 4-13 season.
While New York’s identity is found on the offensive side of the ball, make no mistake, it will all come down to defense in 2022.
It will come down to the side of the ball Jets’ Head Coach Robert Saleh comes from.
If you go back and study Saleh’s rise in the coaching ranks as the defensive coordinator in San Francisco, you will see that his entire scheme was dependent on his front four getting to the quarterback.
You will see that Saleh’s greatest success came the year San Francisco drafted defensive end Nick Bosa.
You will also see that prior to Bosa being drafted and after Bosa’s injury, Saleh’s defensive ranking rose and fell like the New York Stock Market.
• 2017: 25th
• 2018: 28th
• 2019: 8th (Bosa drafted)
• 2020 17th (Bosa injured in week two with a torn ACL and missed the rest of the season).
This brings us to 2021, Saleh’s first at the helm in New York. He oversaw that same defensive philosophy, which is predicated on dropping seven defenders into coverage.
New York finished with the worst ranked defense in the NFL.
It was because New York couldn’t get to the QB.
Team General Manager Joe Douglas must have seen what I am writing about, and responded this offseason by acquiring edge rushers Jacob Martin and Jermaine Johnson.
The only problem is I do not believe either has what it takes to win the edge in the National Football League, which I have documented in previous articles.
New York does get back edge rusher Carl Lawson who has never played in a game for New York due to rupturing his left Achilles’ in practice before last season.
The ink was barely dried on his three-year, $45 million dollar deal he signed with New York, a little bit before the devastating injury occurred.
Nobody knows what to expect from Lawson or how the injury will affect his performance.
The concern is Lawson was not exactly setting the pocket on fire prior to signing that monster deal with the Jets.
In the three previous seasons for the Bengals, Lawson had 5.5 sacks (2020), 5.0 sacks in (2019) and 1.0 sack in (2018).
The last time Lawson turned in a more respectable sack total was way back in 2017 when he put up 8.5 sacks.
The partial reason for Lawson’s low sack total in 2018 was a torn right ACL. Lawson also suffered a torn left ACL back in 2014 at Auburn.
That leaves the Jets banking on a pass rusher coming off a ruptured Achilles and two blown out knees.
It is possible. Anything is possible.
However, it will be a tall order.
The biggest challenge for Lawson will be left defensive ends push off their left foot coming out of their stance, the exact location where the injury occurred.
It will be a roll of the dice with Lawson that could go either way.
John Franklin-Myers is on the opposite side of the line at right defensive end. He was one of the true bright spots on the Jets’ defense last season. Granted, he put up 6.0 sacks also. However, I feel the Jets can win with him as I put a (B-) grade on him last season.
Other than that, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was able to generate 6.0 sacks.
Nobody else on this defense generated enough heat worth mentioning.
Unless Martin and Johnson prove me wrong, Jets’ Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich is going to have to change course. He will either have to blitz a lot or do something outside of the box to attempt to create pressure.
If the Jets blitz a lot, it will put a lot of weight on this talented secondary featuring three out of four new faces (cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner and D.J. Reed along with safety Jordan Whitehead).
This group will not have much time to gel either.
New York opens the season facing many of the top QB’s in the league in the first nine weeks.
The doorway to victory will literally hinge on New York’s ability to sack them.
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